Posted Date: 07/18/2017
For eighteen years, the Leta Corr Professional Educators Scholarship has provided an Enid High senior with a $1,000, four-year college scholarship to pursue a career in education. This year, the family of the beloved teacher is raising the stakes to encourage more graduates to return to Enid Public Schools as teachers.
Her son, Jay Corr, announced Monday night that the scholarship program will partner with the Cherokee Strip Community Foundation to grow and expand its local presence, offering a $1,000 annual signing bonus -- for up to two years -- to any scholarship recipient that returns to EPS to teach.
Superintendent Dr. Darrell Floyd said the scholarship and signing bonus will make a difference for Enid students for years to come.
“We are grateful to the Corr family for investing in the future of this district and the success of our students,” he said. “With the teacher shortage, we must do everything we can to encourage teaching as a career path for our best and brightest. The Leta Corr Professional Educators Scholarship is a model example of how the school system and private citizens can work together to strengthen education in our community and our state. We are proud to honor Mrs. Corr and her legacy.”
EPS will be one of only a handful of Oklahoma districts, if not the only district, to offer such an incentive to newly hired teachers. The bonus will be granted retroactively to the 18 EHS graduates who have already received the four-year scholarship, including two current EPS employees – Amy Thielke and Kara Klamm.
Thielke, who earned the program’s inaugural scholarship in 2000, serves EPS as a special education teacher for the visually impaired. She will receive $2,000 for her years of service. Klamm, who just completed her first year as an elementary teacher, will receive $1,000. She is eligible for an additional $1,000 when she completes her second year next May.
“As a fifth-generation educator, it means so much to me for the Corr family to invest in public education and to value the role of teachers,” Thielke said. “I am deeply thankful for the support the Leta Corr Professional Educators Scholarship has provided to me – first as a college student and now as an EPS employee. I am proud to be a teacher, and I appreciate the Corr family for honoring my work and the work of my colleagues.”
The Corr family and school officials are optimistic that more local residents will support the effort to encourage future teachers to return to classrooms in their hometown.
“Now that the scholarship program is partnering with the Cherokee Strip Community Foundation, it has the potential to receive additional public donations,” Jay Corr said. “With help from others, we may have the ability to add scholarships and enhance the financial benefits and parameters of the current program. This, in turn, will help Enid Public Schools in recruiting and retaining quality teachers to keep its faculty at the current high level.”
To learn more or to donate, community members are encouraged to contact Mary Stallings, Executive Director of the Cherokee Strip Community Foundation, at 580-234-3988.
Donations can be mailed to the Foundation at PO Box 263, Enid, OK, 73702. Please write “Leta Corr Professional Educators Scholarship” in the memo of the check.
"On behalf of the Cherokee Strip Community Foundation Board of Trustees, we are so pleased to be partnering with the Enid Public Schools by investing and distributing scholarship funds in memory of Leta Corr for perpetuity,” Stallings said. “The endowed funds will provide a lasting memory of Leta Corr and her dedication for impacting professional educators within the Enid Public Schools.”
Leta Corr began her career in 1933 at Fairlake, a one-room country school southwest of Enid. In a handwritten account of her teaching career, Corr described how her salary was $480 per year, which required her to teach eight grades, but also to start the fire in the school’s stove each morning and to sweep the floors every evening.
In 1939, she accepted a position as a second-grade teacher for Hennessey Public Schools, which she held for five years. Because Oklahoma did not allow female teachers to be married at the time, she resigned the position to start a family.
After seven years and three children, she resumed her teaching career by accepting a second-grade position at Coolidge Elementary School, where she taught for 22 years until her retirement in 1977.
All three of her children graduated from Enid High School, and several of her children and grandchildren have chosen to be educators.
Although Mrs. Corr passed away in 2005, she was present in 2000 for the announcement that a scholarship had been established in her name. At that time, she enjoyed volunteering at her church and at the Glidewell House in Humphrey Heritage Village. She tutored children at PJ’s House and was a member of the Garfield County Retired Teachers Association.